If the past 50 years of farming practices can tell us anything, those involved in agriculture industry could use some support. The increased use of mineral fertilizers and increased production of crops have created decades of farming practices that have negatively affected soil quality. Add to that rising temperatures and an increasingly unstable climate, and the agriculture industry has gradually concluded the only way to make farming a viable long-term option is through more sustainable farming practices.
To implement these sustainable practices on a large scale, farmers need support at all levels. One way that farmers are already reaping benefits is through the rapidly developing carbon credits marketplace. Carbon credit programs allow farmers using regenerative farming methods to “sell” carbon their farms have sequestered as credits to large corporations looking to offset their carbon footprint. Many emerging companies offer a carbon credits marketplace. Indigo Ag is one such company that provides farmers with tools to develop regenerative practices that are tailored to their farms to maximize the revenue they make from carbon credits. Karsten Neuffer, Chief Commercial Officer of Indigo Ag, says that it recognizes the duty that companies like Indigo Ag have towards creating an agriculture industry that meets both consumer demands and standards that help reduce harmful emissions.
However, there is an even more significant opportunity to grow the American agriculture institution into a more sustainable system. In the United States, farmers have incurred over $426 billion in farm debt. With over 900 million farmable acres in the US, investment organization rePlant is working on remodeling the agriculture industry with sustainability in mind. ”We have inherited systems that don’t work in the 21st century,” says rePlant Co-Founder Robyn O’Brien. To bring agricultural practices up to date, rePlant is using the significant farm debt as a springboard to implement regenerative farming practices at a large scale. Using an investment of $250 million, rePlant is helping to ease the debts of farmers by employing solutions that improve soil health and fight the looming effects of climate change. In turn, this will transform farms into more sustainable and profitable systems in the long run.
The agriculture industry cannot solely rely on loans and secondary income for the long term. They need extensive support from corporations that benefit from the agriculture industry. PepsiCo is currently paying $10 per acre to farmers who are making the switch to regenerative practices. In 2019, General Mills vowed to transition 1 million acres of farmland to regenerative practices by 2030. Other companies like Wrangler and Kering are also issuing grants to farmers interested in participating in sustainable farming programs. These actions are meaningful steps towards a sustainable agricultural system. But, if regenerative farming becomes the norm, there will have to be much more widespread support across industries.
The switch to regenerative agriculture is not a single-step process. It takes a unified effort to impart real change. But, if done successfully, it will benefit much more than just the agriculture industry; it will impact our country and our planet.